Don’t make your evaluator work. That was the message my teachers gave me before standardized tests. Fill out forms as they were instructed. Answer the prompt directly. Write legibly. The less that a grader had to try to infer, the less likely they were to just give up and grade me poorly. The point was to make their lives as easy as possible so that they could focus simply on grading the quality of my work.
That same principle applies to selling to customers. When a customer agrees to give you their money in exchange for your product, they expect that transaction to be as smooth as possible. The harder you make that process, the more likely it is that they will change their mind. After all, they’re the ones giving you money. You’re the one who should be doing all the work. If you’re forcing your customers to do too much, your conversion rate will suffer.
The first step to improving your conversion rate is to understand the buyer’s journey. A common way of doing this is to break the journey down into touchpoints. Segmenting the stages that a typical customer goes through before, during, and after a purchase allows for easier analysis. But as the number and complexity of touchpoints has increased in the digital marketplace, the sum has ceased to equal the whole of its parts.
Only looking at any one element of a person’s experience misses the forest for the trees. While touchpoints can provide insight, the term “journey” isn’t used by accident. A person’s purchasing experience is much bigger than just the individual moments; ignoring the big picture can cost you business. Whatever your business does, you should make sure it’s easy to do. The most basic way of increasing your conversion rate is to make the buyer’s journey as easy as possible. Below are three ways to do just that.
The simplest way to improve your customer experience is to improve your website’s speed. In their 2017 e-commerce report, Wolfgang Digital found a significant inverse correlation between conversion rate and overall average server response time; there was a similar inverse correlation between revenue growth and page load time. In other words, faster websites led to more sales.
However, that same study also found that the path to purchase is getting longer. That means that people are spending more time making a decision, and every web page that’s slow to load is another opportunity to lose a customer. The window to grab someone’s attention can be as small as three seconds, and missing that window could make the rest of your customer service experience obsolete.
While a fast website alone isn’t enough to make a great user experience, a slow website could shut the door entirely on a potential customer. And there’s no user experience good enough to make up for that.
The ubiquity of the internet has had a profound impact on the “evaluation” stage of the buyer’s journey. At any point in time, someone can research information on a product–and that research influences their buying decision. Even in-person purchases can involve serious online research. But not all screen time is created equal, and not all screens are created equal, and that can be a problem.
Wolfgang Digital’s survey also found that while mobile traffic made up the majority of session time, desktop traffic made up an even greater majority of revenue. These “cross-device conversions” mean that every aspect of your website needs to be optimized for all devices because any one of them could be used to complete a transaction. The last thing you want is to lose a customer after they’ve decided to buy from you.
The value of a repeat customer is no secret in business. A 2015 Monetate report found that about two-thirds of all revenue in Q4 of that year came from returning visitors. Two years later, Monetate released a report detailing the correlation between personalization and increased profitability. Simply put: a more personalized experience leads to more sales.
Tailoring a digital commerce experience doesn’t require a returning customer, but it does require data. Who would you have more data about than someone who’s already made a purchase? People have varied interests, and discovering which new products or services to suggest to existing customers can provide significant returns. The more personal you can make your website experience, the more likely you are to earn someone’s repeat business. The potential for personalization is there if you’re willing to make the most of it.
A better conversion rate
Often lost in the search for the next transaction is the fact that the buying process is a journey. The customer experience is, first and foremost, an experience. It’s a bigger picture that requires stepping back from the individual components of a business in order to better understand it. Ask yourself: Am I making my customers work? Then, find ways to make sure the answer is “no.” However indirect, a better overall customer experience will help your conversion rate.
If you’d like to learn more about how Episerver can improve your website speed, optimize your site for multiple channels, and provide personalization tools, please contact us. You can also read about some real-life examples by checking out our case studies.